Embattled Embree gets support from prez; program blasted by ex-Buff

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To say that the tenure of Jon Embree at Colorado has gotten off to an underwhelming start would be an understatement of epic proportions.

After winning just three games his first season, Embree’s Buffs started 2012 by losing to in-state rival Colorado State — and things have only gone down hill from there.  CU followed up that loss with a home defeat at the hands of FCS-level Sacramento State, then followed that up with a 55-point drubbing at the hands of Fresno State that saw the Bulldogs drop 55 points and roll-up over 500 yards of offense in the first half alone.

That sad state of affairs has prompted some, a mere 16 games into head-coaching career of the former CU player and assistant, to call for Embree’s head on a platter, silver or otherwise.  At least for now, though, one very prominent CU official is not paying heed to the screams for change.

Reacting to the calls for Embree’s dismissal, CU president Bruce Benson instead called for patience among the fan base and alumni as the football program attempts to rebuild from five straight losing seasons — the first time in the school’s history that had happened — under the previous head coach.

“I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, ‘This is the best set of coaches we’ve ever had and we’re really behind them and they’re great guys,'” Benson said according to the Denver Post. “Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve seen people upset. All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding. …

There’s no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we’re going to play it out. We’re going to rebuild and be positive and move forward.”

One former player, however, has come out with verbal guns blazing and aimed squarely at the football program.

In an expansive talk with the Daily Camera, Denver radio personality Matt McChesney, who was a player during Embree’s and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy‘s stints as Buffs assistants, blasted the state of CU football, labeling it a “disgrace” and “the worst program in the nation.”

While not calling (yet) for the firing of either Embree or Bieniemy, McChesney said “if I was in charge, Greg Brown would be fired today,” referring to CU’s defensive coordinator.  On that he might have a valid argument.

Last season, Colorado ranked 109th in scoring defense (36.5 points per game) and 102nd (439.3 yards per game) nationally.  This season, the Buffs are 112th (40.3 ppg) and 106th (479.7 ypg) in those categories.

And, even as he has somewhat tepid support for Embree, he’s putting the onus on the state of the football program squarely on his shoulders, and not that of the former head coach who left the program in tatters.

“I’d like to give Embree and E.B., the benefit of the doubt, but it’s really hard for me to do that after 69 points to Fresno and losing to Sac State and losing to CSU, and then having to look at our conference schedule the way we do,” McChesney said. “I mean, I don’t see a team that we can score a touchdown on let alone win. They’re going to all score 60 points on us.

“I’m not going to blame Dan Hawkins. I’ll tell you that. I’m not going to be that guy who just blames the old coach. This is Embree’s watch. It’s his responsibility.”

Unfortunately for Embree’s supporters, and likely to the delight of his detractors, it will get a helluva lot worse before it gets any better.The Buffs this weekend will begin a streak of nine straight Pac-12 games, with five of those coming against conference teams currently ranked inside the Top 25 of the most recent rankings.

Following that daunting gauntlet, we’ll see if the administration, including Benson and athletic director Mike Bohn, remains squarely in Embree’s corner.

Tom Herman pulls California QB recruit Cameron Rising away from Oklahoma

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Tom Herman has made his share of news since his late November arrival in Austin, but Saturday evening was probably the first time his Big 12 and national rivals perked up and took notice of the new Texas head coach for something that will happen on the field of play.

The Longhorns landed a commitment from Newbury Park, Calif., quarterback Cameron Rising, which would be news in and of itself. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is rated the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 52 player nationally by Rivals for the class of 2018, making him the highest-rated player in Texas’s 4-man class.

But Rising’s pledge is especially notable for where he was already committed: Oklahoma. Rising had been committed to Oklahoma since August and publicly firmed up his pledge as recently as January. “I’m extremely happy (with the decision),” Rising said at the time. “The program is so good, they’re moving in the right direction. They had a slow start but then they picked it up and it was like a warm nice through butter.”

Herman’s tweet brings up an interesting point: the quarterback Oklahoma is most likely to target to replace Rising is the other Texas quarterback pledge.

Casey Thompson, hailing from Moore, Okla., became the first Texas quarterback commitment just nine days before Rising. Beyond just living in the Sooner State, Thompson is also the son of a former Sooner and the brother of another.

In fact, Oklahoma waisted no time in reaching out to Thompson. “OU hit me up already,” Thompson told Burnt Orange Nation, but Thompson indicated Herman and company told him ahead of time Texas would sign two quarterbacks.

And in a note the Texas coaches have likely reminded Thompson of in the past 24 hours, they offered Thompson before Rising. “Me and the [Texas] coaches have a very good relationship. I knew they planned to take 2 from the jump. Their current QB room is thin!”

Oklahoma may very well retaliate to Herman’s plunder with a steal of their own. But the point is Herman has arrived in the Red River Recruiting Wars, and he’s playing to win.

LSU lands Randy Moss’s son as tight end transfer

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They say these things happen in threes, so any program employing Warren Sapp‘s son better start preparing now. Days after Ray Lewis‘s son announced a transferRandy Moss‘s has done the same.

Thaddeus Moss announced his intention to leave NC State for LSU on Sunday, doing so in a post on his Twitter account.

Moss was recruited to NC State by then-Wolfpack offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Canada tried to get Moss to decommit and follow him to Pittsburgh, but that initial refusal worked out for the pair in the end.

“He had gotten fired and I had already gotten my mind made up,” Moss told The Advocate. “He had messaged me and was telling me stuff about Pitt and this stuff. It was all of this stuff. I don’t even think I messaged him back.

“That was actually the very first thing he said when he saw me. ‘Hey, you remember when I messaged you?’ It worked out for the better good.”

Ranked the No. 6 tight end in the class of 2016 by Rivals, Moss started three games last fall for NC State. He caught six passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.

As an undergraduate transfer, Moss will have to sit out the 2017 season before having three seasons to compete for the Tigers.

Michigan meets with refugees as part of Italian Spring Break trip

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Michigan is in Rome for Spring Break and Jim Harbaugh determined an act of charity would be the Wolverines’ first item of business upon landing on Italian soil.

After landing in Rome at 9 a.m. local time, the Wolverines immediately headed to the Borghese Gardens, where they distributed backpacks filled with blankets, shirts and shorts to refugees.

“What an experience,” quarterback Wilton Speight told the Toledo Blade. “I saw on the itinerary that we were going to have an opportunity to meet some refugees, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this where we could dive into each other’s lives and teach each other a thing or two about our background, our culture, our favorite sport. It’s been a cool experience.”

And for those wondering, Harbaugh has not reduced his Harbaugh-ness while overseas. In fact, the dollar-to-euro conversion may have actually increased it.

Former Tennesse RB Jalen Hurd to play WR at Baylor, per report

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Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd will become Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd, according to a report from ESPN’s Jake Trotter.

Hurd announced on Halloween he would leave the Vols roster, seeking a change in position as well as scenery. After visits to Ohio State and Louisville, Hurd trekked to Waco for the Bears’ spring game on Saturday, where he indicated on Twitter afterward that he would become a Bear.

Trotter filed afterward, citing a source, that Hurd will indeed become the latest member of the Bears’ wide receiving corps.

Hurd is a physical freak that will excel at whatever position he plays. As a 6-foot-2 running back, he toted the rock 589 times for 2,635 yards with 20 touchdowns in his three seasons as a Vol. Now, as a 240-pound wide receiver (though it’s likely he’ll slim down now that he no longer has to prepare for a season of between-the-tackles running), he’ll display the skills that saw him catch 67 passes for 492 yards and six touchdowns.

As an undergraduate transfer, Hurd will sit out the 2017 season before joining the team in 2018. He will have one season to compete as a Bear.